Briefs

first_imgBriefs The editors of Legal Assistant Today are accepting nominations for its second annual “Rookie of the Year” contest, open to paralegals who have only one to three years of experience under the supervision of an attorney.The contest was established to reward professional contributions to the legal industry made by legal assistants new to the field. This year, the education requirement has been revised, opening up nominations for legal assistants with an associate’s degree in paralegal studies or higher, in combination with the other contest requirements.All nominations are due by July 23. For complete contest requirements and to fill out a nomination form, go to the LAT Web site at www.legalassistanttoday.com, and click on the “Rookie of the Year 2004” logo. Fiore to lead Dade County Bar Association Robert J. Fiore has been sworn in as the 88th president of the Dade County Bar Association and plans to promote and encourage professionalism during his term. The other new Dade County Bar officers include John W. Thornton, Jr., president-elect, Merrick L. Gross, vice president, John P. Murray, secretary, and Timothy M. Ravich, treasurer. “DCBA programs are typically well attended by lawyers and judges,” said Fiore, who also chairs The Florida Bar’s Standing Committee on Professionalism. “This provides a captive audience, on a regular basis, to raise and discuss issues of professionalism facing all of us day in and day out.” For example, Fiore said, his first remarks after being sworn in were to recite the “Creed of Professionalism” from the Bar’s Center of Professionalism. “I saw Justice Peggy Quince do this during a commencement address at a recent St. Thomas University law school graduation, and I thought it was brilliant and captivating,” he said. “The closing words of the professionalism creed, ‘my word is my bond,’ is so powerful that it forces us all to look critically inward and ask, ‘is mine?’”Ad review fee increased The Board of Governors has given final approval to raising the fee for reviewing lawyers’ advertisements from $100 to $150. Acting at its meeting in late May, the board gave final approval to several rule amendments. According to information from the Disciplinary Procedure Committee, which reviewed the change in the advertising review fee, the higher fee is needed to offset costs of the Bar’s advertising regulatory program. It was approved on second reading by the board as part of its consent agenda. Other approved changes include: • Clarifying that lawyers suspended because of a criminal conviction can only attack the jurisdiction of the convicting court or the lack of due process, not the underlying facts of the case. • Specifying that when a suspended lawyer seeks reinstatement and was required to seek rehabilitation from chemical or substance dependency or a medical condition that the Bar may seek records to determine if the treatment was effective. • Clarifying the procedures for imposing discipline when a lawyer has been found in contempt. • Clarifying that a fee contract that is not in compliance with Bar rules is a matter between the attorney and client and a matter of professional ethics, and not a basis for any action or defense by an opposing party in attendant litigation. • Closing a loophole in Bar admission procedures by providing that a Bar applicant can be disciplined if that applicant commits an act that adversely reflects on his or her fitness to practice while applying to the Bar and if that action is not discovered until after admission. • Clarifying what legal forms are Supreme Court approved and that nonlawyers can help others fill out without violating unlicensed practice of law rules. All the rule changes must be filed with the Supreme Court and approved by the justices before becoming effective.YLD considers PWP discount for government attorneys The Young Lawyers Division plans to study a possible fee reduction for government lawyers and others who are required to take the Practicing with Professionalism course upon joining The Florida Bar. Outgoing YLD President Mark Romance told the Bar Board of Governors recently the YLD has agreed to study the fee issue in light of recent proposed changes, now pending at the Florida Supreme Court, which would require government lawyers to attend PWP. Under current rules, government lawyers are exempt from attending the course until they enter private practice. Romance said the YLD worked with the Government Lawyer Section in drawing up the new PWP rules, and the section had several reservations, some of which were accommodated and some of which weren’t. One issue was the cost of the course for government lawyers, who typically earn less than lawyers in private practice. Romance said the YLD has formed a task force with the section to look at the issue. “The proposal is going to be something like the following: If a lawyer who is required to attend the PWP makes less than X dollars, he or she would be entitled to a percentage reduction of the course fee,” he said. The task force will also look at the budget impact of any such change, and report on that to the Bar’s Budget Committee, Romance said. On another matter, Romance said the division had scheduled a visit on June 26, during the Bar’s Annual Meeting, to the Broward Children’s Center, which helps youngsters with disabilities. The trip, which was open to anyone, was both a tour and an opportunity to make improvements to the center. The trip fits the YLD’s efforts to do outreach work in communities around the state, Romance said, and with immediate past President Miles McGrane’s efforts to help children.Crist addresses Escambia/Santa Rosa Bar Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist was the keynote speaker at the Escambia/Santa Rosa Bar Association’s annual Law Day Luncheon and paid special tribute to this year’s Liberty Bell Award winner and reflected on the impact of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. Stephen H. Echsner, co-chair of the bar’s Liberty Bell Award Committee, presented the 2004 award to Capt. John Pritchard, president of the Vietnam Wall South Foundation. He has spent almost 20 years building recognition for America’s military veterans. Pritchard spent two back-to-back combat tours serving as a rifleman, radio operator, fire team leader, squad leader, and platoon sergeant in Vietnam. He remained in service, retiring after 21 years. More than 15 years ago Pritchard was one of those who conceived the idea of Veterans Park for Pensacola. After establishment of the Vietnam Wall South Foundation, he and associates negotiated with the city of Pensacola for a site facing Bayfront Parkway, then established the plan to create the half-sized replica of the Vietnam Wall. That work was completed in 1988, the Foundation having raised $1.3 million to erect and maintain the memorial. The Supreme Court, in a June 17 ruling, has accomplished another step in the Art. V, Revision 7 reforms to the state trial court system.The court has promulgated, through an amendment to a Bar rule, an affidavit to be filled out by those seeking an appointment of a public defender or for other “due process services.”The court noted that the legislature in passing laws to implement Revision 7 gave court clerks the job of reviewing applications of criminal defendants who say they cannot afford their own attorneys and want a public defender. The legislature instructed the court to devise an appropriate form for the clerks to use.In the opinion, In Re: Approval of Form for Use by Clerks of the Circuit Courts Pursuant to Rule 10-2.1(a) of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, case no. 04-004, the court noted it was including the form in the Bar rule which allows nonlawyers to assist others in the preparation of some legal forms.“However, only the clerks of the circuit courts are authorized to assist individuals in completion of this form,” the court said. “Rule 10-2.1(a) requires the individual who assisted in preparation of the form to provide a disclosure to the individual who sought assistance. The Court directs the circuit court clerks to this rule for language to be included in the disclosure. Because local procedures may vary from circuit to circuit, the chief judge of each circuit is authorized to prepare instructions for the use of the approved form. Instructions shall be filed with the clerk of court in the respective circuit and with the clerk of this Court.”The opinion, along with the form, is available on the court’s Web site at www.flcourts.org.Rookie legal assistant to be honored The Practice Management and Development Section recently held a joint retreat in New York City with the Law Office Management Committee of the New York State Bar Association.The two entities compared experiences and trends across all categories of law firm management, including recruiting and hiring, associate retention, and law firm consolidation and growth.Rick Georges of the Florida Bar PMDS provided an updated presentation on technology trends and products for legal practitioners.The retreat opened with a welcoming event which included an appearance from Thomas Levin, president of the New York State Bar Association, and Hannah Arterian, dean of the Syracuse University College of Law. Arterian and Bruce Hamm, director of professional legal education and credit programs at Syracuse, arranged for the retreat to be held in the Syracuse Alumni quarters in the city, near Central Park.Bar fees are now payable Florida Bar members should now have received their 2003-2004 annual fee statements — reflecting no increase in fees.The statements were mailed in late May. The fees were payable July 1 and are late after August 15.Members will receive one of two fee statements: one designed for active members and another for those who have elected inactive status. Annual fees are still $265. Inactive members pay $175. Eligible members may pay online at www.flabar.org.Under the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, fees postmarked after August 15 will be assessed a late fee.Zebersky honored for professionalism Edward Zebersky of Hollywood received the 2004 Standing Committee on Professionalism Chair’s Choice Award for his exceptional service and professionalism as a guardian ad litem.Zebersky was the guardian ad litem for Loren Hinton, a two-year-old who almost drowned in her family’s apartment complex pool. Although she survived, she suffered permanent brain damage from her time underwater. The subsequent case was highly litigated and ultimately settled for $100 million. Despite the complexity of the case and the hours spent on the case, Zebersky waived his fee so that all of the proceeds could go to help provide for Loren.The Standing Committee on Professionalism created the award to honor Zebersky for giving his time without compensation so that justice was properly served.“This was an easy choice for me,” said Katherine Clark Silverglate, immediate past chair of the Professionalism Committee. “What Mr. Zebersky did exemplifies what the professionalism committee teaches, preaches and encourages year in and year out. Indeed, he took the word ‘service’ to a new level.”Court approves ‘due process’ formcenter_img PM&D Section retreats to NY July 15, 2004 Regular Newslast_img

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